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By Tom Cain

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Buffeted and deafened by the air being forced around his body as he plummeted, and as numb with cold as a deep-frozen T-bone, Carver wondered how much difference blindness would make. If he looked straight down, there was nothing below him but the infinite blackness of the Atlantic Ocean. But then out of the corner of his right eye, he saw a sparkle of light, far beneath him, that expanded and brightened with every second that passed, and now he was able to get his bearings. He was travelling from east to west, towards the eastern seaboard of America, still so high that he could detect the curvature of the earth.

Altitude also thins the atmosphere. This can lead to hypoxia, or oxygen starvation, which in turn causes blackouts. An unconscious man in a wing-suit will lose control and tumble helplessly down to earth like a stricken aircraft. Carver’s chute was set to deploy automatically at around two thousand feet, but if his body position was unstable his lines and canopy could wrap themselves around him like a spider’s web round a fly. And then they’d just be shrink-wrap for his shattered corpse. To combat hypoxia, Carver was using a personal oxygen supply.

The stars were up by the bar that snaked down one side of the club. There stood six pimps, each with their most desirable property: six stallholders touting for a foreigner’s custom in a human souk. The girls who were coming up for sale cast quick, competitive glances at one another, each as fearful of failure as Lara, knowing only one of them could succeed. They toyed with their hair and tossed their heads. As they shifted nervously from foot to foot, their heels tapped against the floor like the shoes of skittish racehorses coming under starter’s orders.

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